MORGANTOWN - The Rev. Fr. George Nedeff of Corpus Christi, Tex., has a very interesting and diversified background dating back to Parkersburg High School and West Virginia University.
I hardly know where to start after interviewing this 72-year-old friend who served WVU athletically for some 35 years as an athlete, a professor, wrestling coach and hard-working administrator.
After playing football and wrestling at Parkesburg High, he enrolled here in 1960. He had earned All-State honors and also was captain in both sports.
Nedeff, 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, was a guard in 1960 and 1963 and was a heavyweight wrestler all four years. Then he served seven years at WVU as head wrestling coach and compiled a 57-35-3 record from 1968-74.
He had received a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1963 and a master's degree in 1965. He had coached about three years at Big Creek High in War, W. Va. He started a wrestling program there and was also assistant football coach.
Nedeff, who was captain of the 1963 WVU wrestling team that went 9-3, also lettered in football that same year. "At 200 pounds, I probably was the lightest (successful) heavyweight wrestler in the university's history," Father George recalled.
The Parkersburg native capped his career at WVU by serving as Director of Athletic Facilities from 1972 through 1997. Part of that lengthy, time-consuming, tedious role, he also was an assistant professor in physical education in addition to coaching.
"I got calls around the clock," Nedeff remembered. "I really worked hard. I managed even the old Field House, arranging times for use. It was a challenge, of course, including Mountaineer Field, the Coliseum, soccer fields, the Shell Building and tennis courts.
"It was too much for me," he admitted. "I really could have used some help." Eventually he quit teaching and gave up coaching.
Nedeff, who on July 16 will celebrate his sixth year as a Roman Catholic Church priest, has been inducted into six sports Hall of Fames.
PHS Hall of Fame (1990), WVU Wrestling Hall of Fame (1996), Mid-Ohio Valley Hall of Fame (2000), National Wrestling Hall of Fame (2000), College of Physical Activities and Sciences Hall of Fame (2012), and the PHS Big Red Hall of Fame (2013) on Aug. 30.
Father George joined the religious order called The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in Corpus Christi. It was founded by Father Jim Flanagan, who played football at Notre Dame.
He fondly remembers Parkersburg High as a premier sports leader in the Mountain State. He was one of seven brothers who excelled as athletes there.
"I cherish being a priest," said Nedeff, who spent a few years in Rome, Italy, and prepared there in pursuit of the priesthood. "I am very happy here at St. Anthony Church and St. Anthony School as well.
"I also have a prison ministry and visit every other week with sacraments for the people who are incarcerated." He even worked "death row" at a famed prison facility in Louisiana.
Nedeff was married for 30 years and he and wife Anita had two children and two grandchildren.
"The failure of my marriage is something I did not want," he admitted. "Going through a divorce was the most painful thing I ever experienced."
However, he maintains a close relationship with his family, and decided eventually after the divorce to do whatever was required to fulfill his longtime hope to gain priesthood if possible.
He was granted an annulment of his divorce. His son Edward, 42, is a newspaper editor in Indiana. His daughter, Cheryl Lewis, is 40 and a school teacher in Fairmont, W. Va.
"I cherished my years at WVU very much as an athlete, coach, professor and administrator," Nedeff concluded.